Anya Gruber '18 Contributing Writer
Two Hampshire seniors have recently launched Switchboard Magazine, a new online publication intended to give a voice to college students of the Pioneer Valley.
Switchboard Magazine, created by Remy Schwartz and Duncan Sullivan, is designed to be the voice of young people in the Five College area. According to Schwartz, the goal is to embody an informal “bloggy” sort of publication in the style of Jezebel.com and Gawker.com. The magazine hopes to become a venue for “casual and interesting storytelling.”
According to their Facebook page, Switchboard is “by the Valley, for the Valley.” The creators are particularly focused on cultural interests such as “valley curiosities, profiles, history and evaluations of artists, musicians, filmmakers,” said Schwartz.
The online magazine also seeks to offer perspectives on the issues that the Valley’s young people are concerned about these days, such as feminism and other related issues. After the Super Bowl aired, for example, the magazine published a feminist critique of its ads.
The majority of readers, however, are most interested in topics such as college and post-grad life, as well as study and party culture. “[These are] pretty standard themes,” said Schwartz. Articles are written in a casual style, and humor is a big element. The magazine recently published a story on “Party Bingo” after visiting parties from four of the five colleges; the goal is to check off as many common party occurrences as possible until you win Bingo.
“We have been talking a lot about the future and our post-graduation lives,” said Schwartz. “These are things that young people talk about.”
The creators hope to explore a wide variety of media with the site’s advertisement-free, “simple, easy format [to create a] sounded [sic] web experience … [with] casual and interesting storytelling.” This ranges from more traditional, written articles to video, music and sound.
“We’re experimenting with new modes of journalism for an in-depth, multimedia publication,” said Schwartz. Co-creator Sullivan’s current project is a video about the local phenomenon of pond hockey. The aim is to create “something totally different from what you’d find in a college newspaper.”
“We’re a real grassroots project,” said Schwartz of Switchboard, which was launched less than a month ago at the end of January. According to the creators, they are still finding their stride, but they are off to a promising start. Currently staffed with just a handful of students, they are hoping to find a “dynamic, well-rounded voice,” armed with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. “We really don’t want to be typecastable,” Schwartz said, and adds that they’re “looking to enlarge [their] core staff to a larger, more mixed-up group of people.”
The question of how to engage readers was difficult for the magazine’s founders. Anonymous internet comments quickly turn foul, but the creators felt that limiting feedback could be alienating. Instead, Sullivan and Schwartz urge readers to write to the catch-all e-mail address with any articulated responses they may have, to create what Schwartz calls a “well-rounded conversation.” Those thoughts can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schwartz emphasized that for students interested in getting involved, the commitment doesn’t have to be large. “You can be as involved as you want to be,” he said, and in any capacity, whether it be through articles, photography, original songs or anything else.
Switchboard can be found at www.switchboardmag.com. They also have a tumblr and Facebook page.